Birds Attacking Your Windows? Here's How To Stop It
Last updated 3/9/2021 at 9:55am
If you have ever noticed a bird attacking your windows, you may have wondered why this strange behavior was occurring. Beyond the potential disruption it might cause your family, repeated attacks can be harmful to the birds. Understanding the problem, however, can help you put a stop to it and better protect the birds nesting on your property.
It's estimated that 200 million birds die from window collisions in the USA and Canada annually. That's a lot of birds. Sometimes it may be a mirror on a vehicle parked at a house. These birds will obsessively fly at the window, flutter at it, peck at it and often leave a whole lot of what birders call "whitewash" all over the window or the side of the house. It's annoying, it's messy and it can be down right unnerving!
What we have here are raging hormones. To be specific, most often it is male birds. They don't realize that the other bird is their reflection. They view it as a rival male and he is invading their territory.
The most common species that does this is Northern Cardinals but robins, wrens and meadowlarks do it too. It starts happening this time of year because rapidly lengthening minutes of daylight trigger hormones in most bird species, which prepares the females for egg laying and the males for finding mates. I think it happens regularly with cardinals because they tend to nest in shrubs very close to houses so they are more likely to first encounter their image in the window reflection and once they do, it is all over.
First of all, no, they do not learn that it isn't another bird so don't even hope for that to occur. Secondly, cutouts of hawk silhouettes that you put on the inside of the windows won't do any good. The reflection is seen in the outer portions of the window pane. The only way to stop the bird is to cover up the window with just about anything. I've seen newspapers, cardboard, and thin plywood used. You may be able to put up some screening or netting and block enough of the reflection so the bird wouldn't be seeing himself. If you are going to do this, the sooner you start the less time the bird will have to get this habit ingrained.
The next question homeowners have is how long will this behavior last. Unfortunately, cardinals can have multiple broods through the summer and it could last well into August in many years. Once they get started they are liable to be at it all summer long. The activity may dwindle some when the parents are busy feeding the young but it's liable to pick right back up when they start the second brood. Yes, it is annoying. No you can't shoot them as cardinals, like most all songbirds, are protected by federal law. The birds will stop eventually, but until then.....